In the District of Columbia, a civil protection order (“CPO”) requires that the person who is subject to the order (the respondent) stay away from the petitioner – the person requesting protection. A protection order is issued by the court and directs the respondent to refrain from abusing, harassing, threatening, committing a crime, or having any contact with another person.
Eligibility for a civil protective order is dependent on the type of relationship between the person seeking the protection and the person they are seeking to obtain the order against.
- A spouse
- Domestic partner
- Intimate or dating partner
- Relative by blood, adoption, legal custody, marriage or domestic partnership
- Someone you have a child in common with
- Someone who is or was in an intimate relationship with a person that you are or were in an intimate relationship with.
Someone who believes they are a victim of stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse, can file for a civil protection order against the offender even if they do not fall into one of the above categories.
Types of civil protective orders
Temporary or ex parte protection order – This can be issued the day that the petition is filed without the respondent being present in court and without prior notice. If the judge believes that their safety or welfare is in immediate danger, he or she will issue the temporary order. The temporary protection order can last up to 14 days and can be extended for additional 14 day periods until the court hearing or trial is completed.
Civil protective order – a protection order may be issued by a judge after there is a court hearing where both you and the respondent appear and present evidence and testimony. The protective order could require the respondent to do any of or a combination of:
- Stop committing or threatening to commit crimes against the petitioner
- Stay away from you and any other protected person, including at specific locations like work or school
- Refrain from contact with you and any other protected person including electronically (social media)
- Refrain from entering the home, or vacate the home if you both live together and you own/rent or jointly own/rent the home
- Give up possession of any firearms or purchasing a firearm
- Pay your attorneys’ fees and court costs
- Return personal property owned by you alone or jointly with the respondent, including keys
- Provide you with financial assistance or spousal support for your expenses, including rent, mortgage, and bills
- Pay your child support
- Keep you and/or your children on his/her health insurance plan
- Reimburse you for property damage, medical costs, and other expenses you incurred due to the respondent’s actions
- Participate in psychiatric or medical treatment or counseling for, parenting, drugs, alcohol, domestic violence
These cases can sometimes be resolved without a trial by entering into a “Consent without Admissions” agreement. In those situations, the respondent typically agrees to stay away from the petitioner but without admitting to the facts alleged in the CPO petition.
In addition to the above, the court could also grant the following relief to the petitioner:
- Grant you temporary custody of the children and, assuming the respondent shows that visitation will not hurt the children’s emotional development or endanger them, arrange a visitation schedule that protects your safety
- Order the police to assist in enforcing the terms of the order by having them escort you to collect personal belongings or to collect the keys from the respondent for you
- Grant you custody of a pet that belongs to you, the respondent, or lives in either household
- Order any other relief that you show you need to protect you from harm.
The civil protection order lasts up to one year. It can be extended, modified, or canceled through the courts. If the respondent violates the terms of a civil protective order, the petitioner may pursue criminal charges against the respondent.
Contact a D.C. attorney with civil protective order experience
If you are presented with a temporary protective order, it is in your best interest to seek counsel with knowledge and experience in this area of law. Contact attorney Jay Mykytiuk, or call 202.630.1522 for a consultation. He can answer your questions about the details of the order and advise you how best to proceed in this matter.